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					Response .................................................................................................. 1 Vision, Values, Purpose and Nature of ECE in the 21st Century ...................... 2 Elements of Quality .................................................................................... 2 Qualified teachers ............................................................................... 2 Collaborative approach ........................................................................ 2 Improved group size and ratios ............................................................ 2 Quality programmes ............................................................................ 2 Interactions which enhance learning and development .......................... 2 Safe, healthy and secure environment .................................................. 3 Policies to Improve Quality ......................................................................... 3 Regulations ......................................................................................... 3 Funding policies .................................................................................. 3 Other government policies ................................................................... 4 Increased Participation ............................................................................... 4 Concepts ............................................................................................ 4 Changes to regulations and policy ........................................................ 5 What the Children Think ............................................................................. 5 Communities of Learning ............................................................................ 5 Transition from Early Childhood Services ..................................................... 6 Government Agencies ................................................................................ 6 Other Issues .............................................................................................. 7

Response
390 submissions were received on the document Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Education. Initially it appeared that 403 submissions had been received, however it became apparent during checking that this included some duplicates and that the actual number of submissions was 390. 159 (40%1) indicated that they were responding as individuals, and 174 (44%) that they were responding as part of a group, with 16% giving no indication. Of the group submissions, two-thirds were from groups that had seven members or less, and six groups had 50 members or more. 230 submissions (59%) were from early childhood educators, 84 (21%) from parents of children under five, and 55 (14%) from managers or owners of an early childhood education service. 70 (17%) were involved in early childhood education in some other way, and 51 (13%) were involved in another aspect of education. 176 submissions (45%) came from people living in cities, 83 (21%) from people living in rural areas and 65 (17%) from people living in towns. The rest gave no indication of their location. 68% of respondents provided details of their ethnic background. 188 (48% of all respondents) were NZ European, 33 (8%) were Maori, 18 (5%) were of Pacific origin, 10 (3%) were Asian, and 19 (5%) were of other ethnicity. It seems that some of those who were responding as part of a group may have had difficulty answering this question.

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All percentages in this document are of the total response of 390.

Vision, Values, Purpose and Nature of ECE in the 21st Century
290 of the 390 submissions received commented on their vision for ECE in the twenty-first century. There was a wide range of visions offered, with 241 respondents (62%) describing their own vision, and 47 (12%) supporting the vision offered in the consultation document. Individual visions offered had many common themes. Some of the key themes include ECE being inclusive and accessible to all; having qualified staff, being professional, and recognised as such; providing safe, nurturing and stimulating environments for children; and, working in partnership with parents and other caregivers. These and other elements of respondents' visions are picked up and elaborated in the answers to other questions reported on in this document.

Elements of Quality

Respondents were asked "What does quality early childhood education mean to you?' 341 responses addressed this issue. In order of the frequency with which they were mentioned, these were the elements identified:
Qualified teachers

The need for qualified teachers was noted by 156 (40%) of respondents as a key element of quality ECE. Here is one comment on this issue: Quality early childhood education has early childhood teachers/educators who are trained to at least the Diploma of Teaching level - preferably, in time, degrees with a strong focus on the learning and development of young children and the implementation of effective curriculum. (212)
Collaborative approach

A collaborative approach with parents and educators working as partners was the second most commonly mentioned element of quality ECE with 150 (38%) noting this as important. This is what one submission had to say: Quality partnerships with parents and education for parents about the importance of their support in their child's development right through their childhood. (220)
Improved group size and ratios

141 responses (36%) indicated the need for improved group size and better ratios of staff to children. One respondent described it this way: Quality means . . . a group size which allows for positive meaningful relationships. (207)
Quality programmes

The need for quality programmes that provide a rich experience for children was identified in 107 responses (27%) as an important element in quality early childhood education. Here is one description of a quality programme: Quality means . . . delighted children whose care and education is planned for, and intentional, i.e. who have a range of rich experiences available to them, appropriate equipment and environment. (222)
Interactions which enhance learning and development

Adult/child and child/child interactions which enhance learning and development were considered by 86 respondents (22%) to be important. This is one comment: Quality is achieved by regular interaction with adults who have knowledge of the purpose and goals of that interaction, in groups which are small enough to allow the interactions to take place in a meaningful way. (281)

Safe, healthy and secure environment

A safe healthy and secure environment was a priority noted by 85 (22%) of respondents. This quote illustrates that view: Quality early childhood education means an education which provides a safe environment in which children are respected and valued and in which children learn to respect themselves, other people and their environment. (214) Between 15%-20% of responses identified these elements as important to quality ECE: o inclusive education for Maori and Pacific children, and where the needs of children with SEN are adequately resourced o appropriate buildings, equipment and resources o pay and conditions that recognise the value of early childhood education o very affordable or free services. Between 10%-15% of responses also indicated these as important elements: o Te Whariki effectively implemented o On-going professional development. Other elements mentioned by between 5%-10% of respondents included: genuine choice being available; services where the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child and/or the Treaty of Waitangi are honoured; and services where no capital or personal profit is made.

Policies to Improve Quality
When asked what government policies, if any, should be changed or added to improve ECE in the next 10 years, 307 respondents made suggestions for change. These addressed three areas: regulations, funding policies and other government policies.
Regulations

77 responses (20% of all responses) identified the need for improved regulations in the area of staffing ratios and group size. This was one view: Total group sizes should not exceed 30 for over 3 year olds. Infants and toddlers not more than 9 to a group. The group size for children between 2 and 3 years needs to be a special size, less than the 30 for 3 year olds. (267) 72 responses (18%) recommended that regulations should require all educators to be trained or qualified, or in the process of training or becoming qualified. This view was expressed in one submission: Regulation changes should include . . . . well-monitored and accredited pre-service and professional development provision. (163) 48 responses (12%) wanted regulation changes to ensure that planning, assessment and/or evaluation happens. Other suggestions for changes to regulations made by more than 5% of respondents were also concerned with having registered teachers 29 (7%), and having regulations that recognise that quality is also to be found in parent-staffed centres 27 (7%).
Funding policies

The most frequent suggestion for changes to funding policies was that funding should be increased. 120 responses (31%) of the total made this recommendation. Here is one argument put forward for increasing funding:

Quality education requires adequate, stress-free funding (not what we have now) to enable qualified teachers to provide nurturing, stimulating creative environments. (95) The second most frequent suggestion made by 48 responses (12%) was for changes to the bulk funding model. Here is one expression of this view: If the MoE paid salary and wages to centre staff centres wouldn't have to charge parents high fees. (396) Other suggestions proposed by more than 5% of respondents included opening up Rate 3 to all ECS 36 (9%); revising discretionary grants scheme criteria 33 (8%); giving incentives for qualified staff 29 (7%); and revising the access to Rate 2 23 (6%).
Other government policies

82 responses (21%) mentioned the need for pay parity in ECE. This submission was in favour of pay parity: Pay parity for all early childhood educators with Diploma of Teaching qualification. We are delighted to see this is already underway with the staged progress of the Collective Kindergarten Teachers Award. (206) The need for improvements to teacher education were mentioned in 71 submissions (18%). The need for quality pre-service training is highlighted in this comment. The professional qualification of early childhood diploma should be offered only by quality providers. This qualification should be recognised and valued and the people working in early childhood should be paid a decent wage for the work they do. (44) The importance of professional development was another issue that emerged as important in 57 submissions (15%). Here is one suggestion for improvement: An improvement would be to ensure that all centres get professional development this would mean more funding. (224) The need for policies to support research in ECE was identified by 32 (8%) of responses. The other government policy issues noted by more than 6% of respondents was the value of linking health services to ECE provision.

Increased Participation
355 responses gave their views on increasing participation in quality ECS. Some responses discussed important concepts underpinning increased participation, while others focused on regulations and policies to increase participation.
Concepts

Support was expressed in 107 submissions (27%) for increasing enrolments and improving access for those who do not currently use ECS. 60 responses (15%) wanted greater recognition, and some mentioned funding, for quality ECE at home by mothers, especially for younger children. 42 responses (11%) saw value in more education for parents about the importance of ECE for children. 38 responses (10%) sought greater recognition for the importance of ECE as an important, if not the most important stage in life. 36 responses (9%) supported an increase in enrolments but not at the expense of increased group size. 31 responses (8%) wanted health sector workers, and in particular Plunket, to give more information to parents about ECS.

28 responses (7%) believed that if services could become more culturally sensitive increased participation would follow. Along similar lines, 24 responses (6%) noted that if services were of good quality increased participation would follow.
Changes to regulations and policy

The most popular suggestion for changes to regulation or policy that would support increased participation in ECE was for a revision to the Childcare Subsidy. 141 responses (36%) made this suggestion. Two ideas attracted 89 responses (23%) each. The first was to promote the benefits of ECE though initiatives such as Feed the Mind. The second was for proportionately more ECS funding to be given to services with more higher needs families 85 responses (22%) favoured policies and regulations that supported all children's access and right to ECE. 77 submissions (20%) believed that participation would be enhanced if additional funding allowed fees to be decreased. A review of rules and regulations - described by some as reducing the paper war was supported by 72 responses (18%) as a means of increasing participation. Provision of transport was suggested by 51 responses (13%) as another means of increasing participation. 42 responses (11%) sought more research into the reasons for low participation. 26 responses (7%) argued for a planning approach to the issue of increasing participation. Two other ideas were that: the Ministry of Education could provide facilities 24 responses (6%); itinerant teachers could be provided for playgroups 22 responses (6%); and, that more support could be given to local initiatives for increasing participation 20 responses (5%).

What the Children Think
138 respondents indicated that they had asked the children what they thought about `better' and/or `more' ECE. This enquiry yielded a wide range of responses, and several respondents noted that children had difficulty understanding the question. Others modified it and asked the question in language that their children used regularly. The two most frequent responses each mentioned by 40 children (10%) were firstly, ideas for equipment or resources, and secondly, a wish to attend their ECS more often. 32 children (8%) commented positively on the activities or the toys at their ECS. 26 children (7%) mentioned that they would like more time with a specific adult at their ECS. Another theme 19 responses (5%) from children was that the ECS provided the opportunity to explore or do different things.

Communities of Learning
The consultation document asked for people's reaction to the possible strategic goals to facilitate `communities of learning' around ECSs. Of the 283 responses to the question, 145 (37%) thought that this was a positive idea, and a further 63 (16%) were supportive of the idea if additional resources were provided to make it a reality. Here are two comments:

Wonderful - this is an excellent step. Let's get out there and be pro-active as advocates for the greatest gift in life - our children. (138) `Communities of learning' would need to be adequately resourced to meet expectations - multi-purpose providers - education , health, special needs and continuing education for the community. (141) 53 respondents (14%) commented that they have already created communities of learning around their ECS. Here is one such comment: This is a very important role for EC education already as centres often deliver parent training and provide opportunity for parents to learn administration skills as well as gaining confidence. Many people go on to the paid workforce with skills they learn at Playcentre or on the Kindergarten committee. (223) Other supportive comments included that: the ECS would give parents (to be) support and learning 45 (12%); there would be a range of services under one roof 31 (8%); children would see their learning in the context of adult learning in their community 27 (7%); and, that such a community would give children support and encouragement 27 (7%) 65 (17%) responses included comments about more funding being needed to realise the `communities of learning' concept. There were 21 (5%) negative comments from responses which indicated the idea was not feasible.

Transition from Early Childhood Services
Respondents were asked for any comments on the relationship between ECSs and schools. 258 respondents commented on transition issues. Submissions strongly endorsed the need for a smooth transition from ECS to school. 145 responses (37%) mentioned the importance of good liaison and a smooth transition. Here is one comment made: There needs to be greater dialogue between those working in related services i.e. schools and EC services, policy makers, training providers - to gain greater understanding to shape `best practice' to better fit children's individual needs (social, emotional, gender, cultural etc). It is in the children's interests that we create a `seamless' education system. (292) Another suggestion that had strong support was made by 98 respondents (25%) and was that the transition could be smoothed if primary teachers had a better knowledge of Te Whariki. Here is what one submission said: School teachers need professional development to know that EC teachers have a curriculum, charter, accountability systems, appraisal, child records. While the curriculum is delivered differently, the teachers are comparably responsible. (124) Other comments and suggestions to smooth the transition were that: more ECS should be located on school land 32 (8%); pay parity would improve the relationship between EC educators and primary school teachers 25 (6%); EC educators could improve their knowledge of the school curriculum 24 (6%); Te Whariki could become the curriculum for Year 1 at school 24 (6%); teacher training could cover years 0-8 24 (6%); and, that the starting age for school could be restructured 22 (6%).

Government Agencies
Respondents were asked how government agencies could do more to fulfil strategic goals. 262 gave their views on the matter.

In order of how frequently they were mentioned in comments by respondents, the agencies which could do more to help fulfil strategic goals were: o Education Review Office - mentioned by 86 respondents (22% of all respondents) o Specialist Education Services - 67 respondents (17%) o Ministry of Education - 64 respondents (16%) o Department of Work and Income - 62 (16%) o NZ Qualifications Authority - 44 (11%) o Teacher Registration Board - 34 (9%) o Early Childhood Development - 33 (8%) By some way, the improvement identified by most respondents 87 (22%) was that government agencies should have better co-ordination and a focus on ECE goals. Other improvements identified were that: the government needs to give more support to parents 27 responses (7%); provision of advice and support in rural areas should be enhanced 21 responses (5%); and, that a function should be added to the Specialist Education Services - to support non-English speaking families 19 responses (5%).

Other Issues
34 submissions took the opportunity to comment on other issues. 22 submissions (6%) said that paid parental leave is important for a good start in life, and 10 submissions (3%) suggested making ECE compulsory.